Happy Science (幸福の科学) is a new Japanese religious organization founded in the 1980s by Ryuho Okawa, who claims to be the incarnation of the supreme being. Along with the Happiness Realization Party, the group’s attempt to enter electoral politics, Happy Science promotes far-right nationalist political views, including military expansion and historical revisionism.
With chapters in several cities in the U.S., Happy Science is said to coordinate and bankroll some of the Japanese nationalist activities in the U.S. For example, the organization’s former San Francisco director and current New York director Yoshi Taguchi spoke at the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors against the proposed comfort women memorial in the city in summer 2015. Happy Science also supports Rompa Project, a historical revisionist group using manga (comics) and other means to spread its message.
In April 2016, members of Happy Science led by James Iwase, a minister of Happy Science, showed up at the board meeting of the San Francisco Unified School District to oppose statewide curriculum revision that includes teaching about comfort women.
Members of Happy Science actively promoting comfort women denial in the U.S. include Yoshi Taguchi, Mitsuhiko Fujii, and Kiminobu Kimura. In addition, several core members of the revisionist group Himawari Japan are known to be members of Happy Science.
During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Happy Science openly supported the candidacy of Republican Donald Trump (whom it claims is the reincarnation of George Washington), with Taguchi and members of Himawari Japan volunteering at the campaign headquarters at Trump Tower. Jikido “Jay” Aeba, the founding president of Happiness Realization Party, went on to found Japanese Conservative Union, which is spending over $400,000 to lobby the U.S. government and has sponsored events supporting Trump.
Website: https://happy-science.jp/ (Japanese)
website: http://happy-science.org/ (English)
Hiromi Edwards (エドワーズ博美) is a translator, language instructor, and a comfort women denier. Edwards is a former member of Shinsei Bukkyo (新生佛教), a conservative religious group affiliated with Japan Conference, serving as its translator as well as a writer for Nippon Jiji Hyouron (日本時事評論) published by Shinsei Bukkyo. Edwards, who is a Japanese woman married to an American, studied at Japanese campuses of American universities and teaches Japanese at the Iwakuni U.S. base in Japan.
Since leaving Shinsei Bukkyo, Edwards has participated in comfort women denial as a member of the first Alliance for Truth about Comfort Women Geneva Delegation (2014), the translator for Yumiko Yamamoto’s press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, and an attendant for Tony Marano during his visits to Japan.
Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi, 日本会議) is a powerful conservative organization described by New York Times as “largest nationalist organization, which rejects postwar pacifism, embraces the imperial system and defends Japan’s past wars in Asia.” In addition, Japan Conference opposes policies aimed at promoting gender equality as the organization views them as a threat against traditional Japanese families. Many leaders of Japan Conference, including Shiro Takahashi, Hideaki Kase, and Yoshiko Sakurai are also active in comfort women denial.
Japan Conference has an affiliated parliamentary caucus within the parliament (Nippon Kaigi Kokkai Giin Kondan Kai, 日本会議国会議員懇談会) with hundreds of members, mostly from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. In 2014, 15 out of 19 members of the administration of Shinzo Abe were members of the Japan Conference caucus including Deputy Prime Minister (and former Prime Minister) Taro Aso (麻生太郎), Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication Sanae Takaichi (高市早苗), and Cabinet Minister Yoshihide Suga (菅義偉) in addition to Abe himself.
Jikido “Jay” Aeba (饗庭直道、あえば直道), also known as Hiroaki Aeba (饗庭浩明), is a political activist and comfort women denier. A follower of Happy Science, Aeba was the founding president of Happiness Realization Party, the political wing of the religious organization.
In 2010 Aeba migrated to the U.S. and began cultivating connections with conservative movements in the U.S. He claims to be the only Asian to become an advisor to the Republican National Committee, but media have questioned his actual title. Aeba also claims close ties with President Donald Trump, whom Happy Science openly supported in the 2016 campaign.
In 2015, Aeba resigned from the board of Happy Science and founded Japanese Conservative Union, which he views as a Japanese counterpart to the American Conservative Union, with Shun Eguchi (江口峻), a former editor and board member of the Sankei Shimbun company. JCU holds annual J-CPAC (later renamed to CPAC Japan) conferences.
In Japanese media, Aeba claims to be “the only Asian advisor” to the Republican National Committee, and uses this title prominently in his biography, even though such claim is missing from his English language biographies or at his appearances at American conservative events such as the annual CPAC conference. The 2016 investigation by BuzzFeed revealed that he has never held any official position with the Republican Party. At most, Aeba may have been an unpaid personal advisor to RNC co-chair (which is equivalent to vice chair) Sharon Day, according to BuzzFeed.